Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats

WOMAN'S  LIFE                    157

the castaway wife often seems an infinitely pathetic spectacle,
with her social position lost and her home broken. Always
there is one happy woman, and one who cannot be made happy
by any human arrangement. Even real economic independence
of women will not solve it.

In China such cases are happening every day before our
eyes, and it has sometimes seemed to me that the modern
woman who drives out the old wife with her feminine ferocity
approximates very nearly the state of barbarism of our fore-
fathers, in spite of the fact that she is modern enough not to
tolerate living under the same roof with another woman as her
equal. In the past a really good woman, who was caught in
circumstances that involved her with a married man and who
truly loved him, was willing to go to his family as concubine
and serve the wife with humility and respect. Now driving one
another out and taking one another's place by turn in the name
of monogamy seems to the women to be the better way. It is
the modern, emancipated, so-called civilized way. If women
prefer it that way, let them have it, since it is they who are
primarily affected by it. The young and beautiful ones,
however, will win in the battle against their own sex at the
expense of the older women. The problem is really so new and
yet so old. The marriage system will be imperfect as long as
human nature is imperfect. Let us therefore agree to leave the
problem unsolved. Perhaps only an innate sense of equity and
fair-play and an increased sense of parental responsibility will
ever reduce the number of such cases.

Of course, it is useless to defend concubinage, unless one is
ready to defend polyandry at the same time. Ku Hungming,
the Edinburgh M.A. and profuse quoter of Thomas Garlyle
and Matthew Arnold, once defended concubinage by saying:
"You have seen a tea-pot with four tea-cups, but did you ever
see a tea-cup with four tea-pots?" The best reply to this are
the words of P'an Chinlien, concubine of Hsimen Ch'ing in
Ckinp*inmei: "Do you ever see two spoons in the same bowl
that do not knock against each other?" She knew what she was
talking about.